NaNoWriMo Testimonial from Northeastern University tutor, Laura Blouse:
I discovered National Novel Writing Month in May of 2005, and my 11 year old brain went into overdrive. I had no idea how to write a novel, but I had months to prepare. I was not going down without a fight. All summer I outlined, made character sketches, and dreamt up scenes in my head that I was itching to write down by the time November came…
Unfortunately, what I forgot to do in all that time was come up with a plot. So, for 30 days I stumbled around writing all the scenes I wanted to write, but didn’t make it to the 50,000 word finish line on November 30th. It probably didn’t help that I hand-wrote my first novel in 5 spiral-bound notebooks (“No, Mom, we have to go to the store and get another one of THESE notebooks – it’s important, I’m halfway through a scene!”). Even though I didn’t officially “win,” I don’t consider my first experience a failure. Some people go on to publish the novels they write in November (The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen; Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen; The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern), and that’s awesome. But my fiction is as personal to me as a diary entry, and that’s okay too.
National Novel Writing Month isn’t about creating a perfect draft. It’s just about getting words down on paper – 50,000 to be exact. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s not hard to write a novel in 30 days – especially when you’re applying to colleges, or working a part time job, or bogged down with extra-curriculars, or all of the above and then some. But if you love to write, if you really love putting words on paper, National Novel Writing Month is for you, and it is absolutely doable.
With that being said, I have just one piece of advice for new NaNoWriMo participants that has served me well these last eight years: write for yourself. Write about what interests you, whether you are an expert on the topic or you know nothing about it. Learn something from the experience – and look forward to the moment when you can say “The first time I wrote a novel….”